Re: Self-defense art?
I have often heard the trem "fighting spirit" used in association with Aikido. I can even remember my former Shihan referring to it during gradings. It struck me then as now, as a misnomer when applied to Aikido. When I began MA 37 years ago I started with Kyukushin and Shotokan for a couple of years, then switched to 5 Animal boxing. We did fairly full contact fighting without pads or body armour, and there were plenty of injuries .During one competition I fought a guy 15cm. taller and at least 30 lbs. heavier whose primary tactic was to try to deliver head shots. I got scared, I disliked being hit in the face (who doesn't) and this quickly turned to an aggressive response since that was the way we trained, fear as a stressor supplying adrenaline for fight rather than flight. I successfully delivered a flying kick to the solar plexus and the guy went down and stopped breathing. Fortunately for both of us he was brought round with several bangs to the back, no damage done, apparently a motor spasm. That marked the end of my love affair with fighting but it taught me that under duress we go where our body has been trained to go, not where our mind tells us.
So when people talk about fighting in Aikido I think they must be very careful because the fighting mind develops a fighting body. The development of a peaceful mind can lead to a self defense capacity but it needs special training to do so. It is a contradiction to train Aikido all the time thinking about how this or that technique could be applied lethally whilst still saying that Aikido is an art of peace. However if we are not studying the essence of mortal combat it is not Budo, and therefore not Aikido. This is the paradox that we wrestle with and you cannot seperate the moral, ethical and psychological aspects of training from the physical since they impact and influence one another.
Edwin, by the by, you can certainly learn to slow your heart down through mental control, and develop breathing control to reduce autonomic responses. So I guess in that sense Alex has a point.
Finally we should not ignore the fact that Aikido attracts different people to the dojo than other MA and I'm always surprised if fighters show up and stick. After all if they can fightalready why do Aikido. I asked one of my students, a big, strong paratrooper why he was doing Aikido. He said with a smile and a wink, "I already know how to kill people, now I want to learn to have the choice not to!"